Blumkin, Yakov

(1898–1929)
   Blumkin joined the Cheka at age 19 and was convinced to kill the German ambassador to Russia in 1918 to prevent a German–Russian peace accord by dissident members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. The assassination, planned by the junior member of the political coalition of Bolsheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries ruling the country, was meant to derail the Brest–Litovsk accord with imperial Germany. Remarkably, he was forgiven and allowed to continue serving in the Cheka. Blumkin was close to Leon Trotsky during the Russian civil war and admired his domestic and foreign policies.
   Following the civil war, Blumkin entered foreign intelligence and in 1929 was serving in Turkey as an illegal. He was tasked with selling ancient Talmudic texts, which had been expropriated from Jewish congregations in the Soviet Union by the Communist Party. Blumkin clandestinely met with Trotsky, who had just been exiled to Turkey, and offered to be his channel of communications with his supporters in the Soviet Union. Blumkin was betrayed by his wife, Zoya Zarubina, and arrested on his arrival in Moscow. He was tried and, at Joseph Stalin’s command, executed.
   Blumkin was a talented officer with a genius for languages. He spoke Yiddish, Polish, Persian, Hebrew, and Russian. His talent for conspiracy was far more limited. Blumkin was the first member of the party and the police to be executed for political reasons. Stalin used the execution to send a signal to the Soviet elite that he would treat Trotskyism as a capital crime.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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